Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) President Leung Hio Ming promised on Sunday that his bureau will review its procedures for hiring staff, with the aim of ensuring that its recruitment procedures will always be conducted in line with the law.
Leung made the pledge in response to a hard-hitting report released by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) late last week, which slammed the bureau for having hired a large number of staff illegally through acquisition of services (AoS) contracts.
Apart from probing suspected graft, the CCAC also investigates alleged illegalities in the public administration.
Leung spoke to reporters on Sunday on the sidelines of a public event at a temple in Coloane, when asked by reporters about the CCAC report.
In the report released on Friday, the anti-graft body says that the bureau has violated the laws of public administration recruitment procedures by hiring a large number of staff members through AoS contracts over a number of years.
The report acknowledged that previously a number of government entities employed staff through AoS contracts in line with Decree Law No.122/84/M. However, most of the government entities have stopped hiring workers through AoS contracts in recent years, after the CCAC and the Commission of Audit (CA) repeatedly pointed out that such contracts are inappropriate, the report says.
According to the report, the commission launched an investigation in April last year into the bureau’s recruitment of personnel, after complaints about the bureau’s hiring of staff through AoS contracts even in recent years.
According to the report, CCAC inspectors discovered that the bureau had been “all along” employing personnel through AoS contracts. The report says that the number of staff employed through such contracts significantly increased to 112 in 2014, accounting for almost a sixth of all its personnel.
According to the report, the number of personnel employed by the bureau rose from 553 in 2010 to 842 in 2015, of which the number of staff hired through AoS contracts stood at 58 in 2010 and 110 in 2015.
The report notes that the bureau hired a large number of staff through AoS contracts without a green light from the secretary for social affairs and culture, adding that it, therefore, overstepped its superior’s personnel management authority.
The bureau is overseen by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng.
The report points out that all government entities are legally required to initiate open recruitment procedures, or go through the government’s central recruitment system, when recruiting personnel.
The report also says that the staff employed through AoS contracts enjoyed certain advantages over other jobseekers when the bureau recruited civil servants in an open recruitment process.
The report says that while it is understandable that the bureau would want to recruit more staff as its existing manpower appeared to be unable to cope with its rising workload, the bureau should, nevertheless, conduct its recruitment process according to the statutory procedures.
The CCAC also urges the bureau to ensure that its recruitment procedures are conducted openly, fairly and impartially.
Speaking to reporters, Leung said his bureau would seriously study the CCAC report and respond to the suggestions in the report accordingly.
Leung, a former vice-president of the bureau, has been at its helm for about a month. He succeeded Guilherme Ung Vai Meng who had headed the bureau since January 2010.
The secretariat for social affairs and culture said in a statement on Friday that it has ordered the bureau to submit a report on the CCAC findings within a month.